Set Your Tivo: 02.03.11Posted by Brian Otskey on February 3rd, 2011
***** – quit your job and divorce your wife if that’s what it takes to watch this game live
**** – best watched live, but if you must, tivo and watch it tonight as soon as you get home
*** – set your tivo but make sure you watch it later
** – set your tivo but we’ll forgive you if it stays in the queue until 2013
* – don’t waste bandwidth (yours or the tivo’s) of any kind on this game
Brian Otskey is an RTC contributor.
Another Thursday night of mediocre power conference games means the mid-majors take priority, with the biggest one of all (Gonzaga, if they still are one) on the ropes. Apologies to Valparaiso and Cleveland State, but their game is not on television. All rankings from RTC and all times Eastern.
Wofford @ Charleston – 7 pm on ESPNU (**)
These are the two best teams in the Southern Conference and they both happen to reside in the South Division. They’re tied in the loss column but Charleston won the first meeting in Spartanburg, as the Cougars shot 51% and out-rebounded Wofford on their way to victory. This game features the two best players in the conference, Wofford’s Noah Dahlman and Charleston’s Andrew Goudelock. You probably know about Goudelock from his exploits against North Carolina, Maryland and Tennessee, but Dahlman may be the best player most folks don’t know about.
The senior forward stands just 6’6 but has scored in double figures for 70 straight games and is shooting 63% on the year. He had 34 points on 15-17 FG against Western Carolina in his last game and needs just six points to set the school’s all-time D1 scoring record, something he should accomplish tonight. Goudelock averages 23.5 PPG and is a prolific shooter from the perimeter, as plenty of teams have found out over the last four years. Charleston likes to play at a quick pace, plus they shoot well. The Cougars are #16 in eFG% and ranked fifth in two point percentage. Charleston shoots a lot of threes and manages to connect 36% of the time. With Goudelock filling it up from the outside and Jeremy Simmons (61.5% FG) working inside, Bobby Cremins has a double threat that can score from anywhere on the floor. The Terriers will have to defend better than they did in the first meeting or counter that with good shooting of their own. Wofford ranks #34 nationally in three point percentage, a surprising number, considering how much their offense runs through Dahlman on the interior. Cameron Rundles and Kevin Giltner shoot the ball well from deep for Wofford and have to be a factor tonight on the road in order to open up some more space on the floor for Dahlman to operate. Charleston has a height advantage in this game, and Tim Johnson becomes an important player for Wofford as a result. The 6’6 Johnson is the Terriers’ best rebounder at 8.5 per game and has to work hard on the glass, along with Dahlman, for Wofford to come out on top on the road. Wofford is laden with seniors and juniors making them the second most experienced team in the nation. Charleston also starts four seniors, so this should be a crisply played game between players who know each other well. The Cougars won the first meeting and will be favored at home, but Wofford can win with a big game from Dahlman, better defense and a commitment to rebounding. They need this one in order to jump ahead of Charleston in the conference race and they just might get it.
Gonzaga @ Portland – 11 pm on ESPN2 (***)
At 14-8 (4-3), this is dire straits for Gonzaga. The Bulldogs are in jeopardy of missing the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1998 and likely won’t win the WCC regular season crown. The Zags did indeed beat Portland the first time these teams met, but that was largely due to 20 Pilot turnovers and a +13 edge at the free throw stripe for the homestanding Bulldogs. Gonzaga was outshot and outrebounded in that game but managed to get to the stripe and win by 13 points. Their big front line, however, should give them a chance to win tonight. Sam Dower had 27 points on 11-12 FG against San Diego last time out and is shooting 19-22 over the last three games. If the big man can keep that level of play up and get some help from Robert Sacre and Elias Harris inside, Gonzaga will get back on the right track heading into the home stretch of the season. Even though the Pilots held the Bulldogs to a fairly low percentage in the last meeting, defense has to be a concern for Eric Reveno and his coaching staff. Portland likes to play at a slower pace but doesn’t defend all that well, ranked #217 in defensive efficiency. The Zags can shoot it, so that’ll be something to watch in this game.
Portland blasted St. Mary’s in their last game behind 26 points from Tim Douglas, a 5’10 guard who has burst onto the scene of late. Portland has a lot of firepower in its back court already, ranking second in three point percentage (42.3%), and that’s where they’ll have to win the game tonight. Gonzaga ranks an awful #293 against the triple and the Pilots have two guys shooting well over 40% from deep. Jared Stohl (44.6%) and Nemanja Mitrovic (48%) shoot the most from long range and Portland is almost unstoppable offensively when their guards are shooting well. Gonzaga has a threat of its own from deep in the versatile and talented Steven Gray, but they need to use their depth and interior strength to win this game. Gonzaga has a problem with turnovers (14 per game) and trying to win with quality guard play won’t cut it against Portland. The Pilots have a slight disadvantage on the glass despite having Luke Sikma on their side. Sikma is #8 nationally in defensive rebounding percentage and pulls down 10.6 caroms each game, but Gonzaga has better offensive and defensive rebounding percentages. For Portland to come away with a victory, they need to play solid interior defense without fouling and continue their hot shooting from the perimeter. If they do so, they should be able to win this game at home. For Gonzaga, aggressive play, an up-tempo game plan and solid rebounding are the keys they need to focus on in order to win on the road tonight.